History of Northern California





S. M. Tool


…has a ranch of seventy-one acres two and a half miles northwest of Napa, on the line of the railroad, all of which is in orchard and in full bearing.  It consists of some 10,000 trees, 4,000 being pears, 3,000 peaches, 1,000 cherries and the balance made up of apples, prunes, plums and apricots.  Part of the orchard was set out thirteen years ago, and the last of it about five years since.  Most of the product is shipped East, though some is sold to the local trade and to the canneries.  For some time Mr. Tool has had a canning establishment of the place, which is utilized as a means of disposing of the crop when the conditions are not favorable for shipping.  This cannery was burned down in August of this year, and has just been rebuilt with all the appliances necessary for putting up 100,000 cases of goods during the season.  The average output of this orchard may be summed up about as follows:  5,000 to 6,000 boxes of Bartlett pears, 4,000 being shipped East and the remainder sent to the cannery; 4,000 boxes Beurre Clairgean (fall pears), also shipped East; 5,500 boxes of cherries, mostly sold to the local trade of San Francisco and Sacramento, but next year the cherry-growers will probably ship East through an association; 3500 boxes of plums, mostly shipped to the Eastern markets; 500 boxes of Alexander apples, mostly sent to the mountain States and Territories; 3,000 boxes of peaches, which have generally been sold to the canneries; and ten tons of dried French prunes.  Mr. Tool purchased this ranch in 1883, and since owning the place he has set out about 3,000 trees.


He was born in Posey County, Indiana, in 1848.  His parents were John W. and Jane M. (McKinley) Tool, his father a native of Georgia and his mother of Kentucky.  When he was three years old the family removed to Iowa, near Keosanqua, where his father operated as a pilot on the Des Moines River, as he had been accustomed to do on the Mississippi during his earlier life.  He was one of the first pilots on the Des Moines.  Mr. Tool received his primary education in the public schools of Iowa, which he continued at the printer’s case, where he worked for twelve years.  During that time he assisted in establishing the first morning daily paper published in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1872.  This paper was called the Politician, and was owned by Sheldon, Tool & Sweet.  He sold out his interest the same year and came to California, where he worked at his trade in the office of the Napa Register,   afterward purchasing a half interest in that paper.  He left this for the grocery business, in which he continued for ten years, and sold to purchase the orchard which he has managed since.  He has probably the largest bearing orchard in Napa Valley, and conducts it in a thorough business-like manner.  He was married, July 10, 1877, to Miss Jennie Marks, a native of Iowa. (Pages 348-349)



George Groves


…the leading hotel man of the city of Redding, California, is a native of England, born August 7, 1834, the son of English parents.  He received his education in his native land and, at the age of eighteen years, came to New York and began his business career in this country.  For a number of years he was variously employed; worked in a seed garden in New York for eight dollars per month; went to Ohio and drove a team on the Ohio State Canal during the summer of 1852, at twelve dollars per month; for two years worked on a farm in Mercer County, Illinois, at thirteen dollars per month; engaged in flat-boating on the Mississippi River, selling wood to steamboats, being in that business three years; purchased a farm in Illinois and engaged in agricultural pursuits.  In 1861 r. Groves sold out and returned to England.  Two years later he came back to the United States and settled in the iron district of Pennsylvania, where he learned the iron-molder’s trade and worked at it five years.  He then removed to Mercer County, Illinois, and took charge of a foundry, which he ran for a year.  From there he went to Burlington, Iowa, and worked one winter.  In 1865 he went on a farm and engaged in fruit culture, continuing that business four years.  Then he purchased eighty acres of land, which he fenced and improved and which, three years later, he sold.


In 1873 Mr. Groves came to California and settled in Colfax, Placer County.  There he furnished wood to the railroad and leased a hotel for a year and a half.  He also engaged in hauling freight to Nevada City until the completion of the narrow-gauge railroad.  In 1878 he sold out and went to Redding and ran the stage and express business from Redding to Shasta.  He took the contract for planting eighty acres of land in vineyard and completed the work.  He then engaged in the restaurant business on the present site of the Paragon Hotel.  After running it a few months he added a lodging house to it.  In 1883 the building was consumed by fire, after which Mr. Groves purchased the adjoining lot and built the Paragon Hotel.  The increasing demands of his business caused him, in 1886, to build an addition to it.  In 1887 he built the Hotel Del Monte, a fine large structure, for lodging purposes.  He attractive grounds, ornamented with flowers, shrubs and vines, which surround this house, give it an inviting appearance.  The Del Monte is a delightfully quite retreat for those who wish to avoid the noise and bustle of the center of the city where the Paragon is located.


In 1858 Mr. Groves married Miss Rebecca Gregory, a native of Indiana.  Their union was blessed with three children, only one of whom is living—William Sherman, born in Illinois.  He is with his father in Redding and has charge of the Del Monte House.  Both he and his father are obliging business men and are regarded with high esteem by their fellow citizens.  Mr. Groves adheres to the Democratic Party.  He is a member of the A. O. U. W. (Pages 349-350)



J. H. Steves


…hardware dealer, St. Helena, is truly a representative business man, commanding a large and constantly increasing trade and possessing to the full the confidence and esteem of the community.  He is a self-made man in the best sense of that term, having had to make his own way from the beginning.  Although still young in years, he has already achieved what many far older than he desires eagerly, namely, success and comfortable means.


Mr. Steves was born in Durand, Winnebago County, Illinois, June 12, 1851, and resided in his birth-place until he was twenty years of age, attending the common-schools of that place and afterward the High School at Rockford in the same State.  At Durand he served an apprenticeship of three years at the tinsmith’s trade, and in 1871 moved to Beloit, Wisconsin, and there worked at his trade, remaining with one firm during the whole six years of his stay.  On the first day of the year, 1877, he paid a visit to his home at Durand, and, finding his father about to start for California, decided to accompany him.  They arrived in San Francisco, January 25, remained in that city a short time, and then, hearing of the opportunities afforded in the Napa Valley, paid it a visit.  As a result Mr. Steves settled in St. Helena, finding employment in the shops of W. L. Philllips, with whom he continued for a year and a half.  Then (August 13, 1878) bought out the tinware store of Mr. Phillips and began business on his own account.  This he carried on with increasing success, adding to his plumbing and tinning business a general line of hareware, and taking the agency for the Cyclone windmills, agricultural implements, wagons, etc., carrying in all a stock of a value approaching $20,000.  He has also the agency for Gladding, McBean & Co., of San Francisco, for terra cotta, drain tile, etc.  His store is a large and fine one in the new Odd Fellows’ Building, of dimensions 30 x 80 feet.  In the large storage yard is piled the drain tile, the store presenting a well-stocked and handsome appearance, such as is hardly to be expected outside the large cities.  In addition he has a shop 30 x 30 feet in size, with storage-rooms adjoining of same size.  He employs some eight or ten people, under the direction of his efficient foreman, Mr. W. A. Bingham, who has been with him for ten years, and has full charge during Mr. Steves’ absence.


Mr. Steves is a strong Republican in politics, but is far too busy a man to seek for or accept office, although an active worker in conventions and during campaigns.  He was married January 8, 1879, to Miss Ida S. Warren, a native of California.  They have three children: Henry Edgar, born November 12, 1879; Charles Emory, born August 5, 1881; and Warren Carlton, born May 20, 1884.   (Page 350)



George D. Fiske,

...Real-Estate and insurance agent, Woodland, was born in Fiskdale, Worcester County, Massachusetts, July 31, 1827, a son of Henry Fiske, a native of Sturbridge in that county.  Fiskdale is now a part of Sturbridge.  According to one historian, the origin of the Fiske family in America was as follows: 


Two sons of Nicholas Fiske, a knighted physician who emigrated from Stadhough parish in the county of Suffold, England, came to the United States and settled in Massachusetts, which at that time comprised far more territory than it does now.  There is now in the possession of the subject of this sketch the coat-of-arms which was given to Nicholas Fiske in the year 1635, in the time of the reign of Charles, King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland.  Henry Fiske, father of George, was born in Sturbridge in 1795, married Susan Helen Fales at Wrentham, Massachusetts, twenty-two miles from Boston; she was born in that locality.  They resided in Massachusetts until 1837, when they removed to Ingham County, Michigan.  After a residence of nine years in Ingham County, he died in the town of Leslie, that county, the day before Christmas, 1845.  He was the second incumbent of the office of Judge of Probate in that county.  After his death, his widow moved with a part of the family back to Massachusetts.  Late in life she removed to New Hampshire, where she died, at the residence of her daughter, Mrs. Susan F. Geround, in 1881, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years.  She was the mother of seven children, of whom two died in Michigan, one in California from an accident, and Francis L. is residing at Ottawa, Illinois.  Her eldest son, Henry M. Fiske, of San Francisco, is a member of the State Board of Health.  The daughter is the wife of S. A. Gerould, in Keene, New Hampshire, and the remaining son is George D., the subject of this sketch.


The latter ended his school education at the academy in Jackson, Michigan, returned to Massachusetts and became associated with his uncle, Elisha Fales, commission merchant in Boston, who afterward turned the management of the business over to Mr. Fiske.


In 1848 news of the California gold discovery reached Boston , and after preparation he sailed the next spring on the barque Edward Fletcher for California, in company with twenty-eight others.  Three of the organized party, however, came overland through Mexico, arriving a month in advance of the others to make arrangements for transportation to the mines.  The vessel belonged to William Fletcher, and was built for the Mediterranean trade and to carry missionaries abroad.  Leaving Boston March 4, they came around Cape Horn and arrived at San Francisco on Sunday, September 7—180 days from Boston.  They had several exciting experiences on the trip, which would be interesting to relate had we space.  Four days after their arrival they went to Sacramento on the schooner Jacob M. Ryerson, paying $14 each as passenger fare and $20 per ton for freight.  They hired ox teams and too two loads of provisions to Hangtown; but Mr. Fiske and two others were left behind to take charge of the freight and secure other ox teams as they came in from overland, with which to take the freight and other provisions, etc., to the mines.  About a week afterward, with four yoke of oxen, they started on their journey, Mr. Fiske accompanying; but two of the oxen died on the way, the teamster became sick, and finally, after about four days’ travel, they reached Hangtown.  The company then voted to dissolve, each one to go his own way, finding that as an organized body they could not accomplish anything.


Mr. Fiske went to the mines on the south fork of the American River, engaged in gold-mining at Salem Bar and also kept a little store.  In the fall of that year he sold out his store, returned to Sacramento, and in company with a man named Phillips, bought a team and a lot of goods, with which they made another trip to the mines, sold the goods there, and then went to McDowell Hill and bought out the McDowell & Read store and boarding-house.  Business was very brisk at that point, the water having been turned from the bed of the river and the gold yield very large.  Mr. Phillips, in making a trip to Sacramento for more goods, died with the cholera, and Mr. Fiske then had to take the road himself while the fearful epidemic was raging.  Mr. Fiske, leaving his business in charge of his cousin, William L. Messinger, went East by way of the Isthmus, taking charge of an invalid young man from Rhode Island named Durfee, and sailed for Panama on board the old British barque Enterprise, and was nearly three months reaching Panama.  From the Isthmus to New York he sailed on the steamer North America, then the fastest steamship plying between New York and Chagres.


July 26, 1851, Mr. Fiske was married, and on the same day took the train for New York on his way to California, taking also in charge his cousin’s wife, Mrs. Messinger and her child.  They sailed on the steamdhip Cherokee for Havana, when they were transferred to the Falcon for Chagres.  The Chagres River being very high they took the stern-wheel steamer Aspinwall up that river to Gorgona, and by barge to Cruces, then by mule back to Panama, where they took passage on the steamer Northerner, landing at San Francisco September 9.


Mr. Fiske sold out his store at McDowell Hill the following spring and went into mining operations on a very large scale; but the early rains of October were so heavy as to carry away their flumes and machinery.  After the great fire of November 2, 1852, which destroyed Sacramento, Mr. Fiske moved down to that place; and soon the city was inundated, and Mr. Fiske and his wife’s brother, George Loring, were engaged in taking goods around to Brighton in lighters, where they could be conveyed to the mines by teams.  In the spring, after the water had subsided, Mr. Fiske and Mr. Loring started in the grocery business and continued it until the fall of 1855, when they sold out and removed to Capay Valley in Yolo County, and engaged in stock-raising and farming.  Mr. Fiske, then wishing to locate where he could educate his children, sold again in 1859 and moved to where Woodland now stands.  In 1862 he purchased land adjoining Woodland and the same year was appointed United States Deputy Collector of Internal Revenue for the Fourth District, being connected with the department for eight years.  Part of this time and subsequently he was Deputy Sheriff under Charles H. Gray.  Since about 1863 he has been engaged in the real-estate and insurance business.


Mr. Fiske married Elizabeth C. Loring, a native of Yarmouth, Maine, by whom he had two sons:  Harry Waterman, born on McDowell Hill in 1852, graduated at the Cooper Medical Institute at San Francisco, and has since practiced his profession in Plumas, Yolo and San Luis Obispo counties, and died at Cambria, in the latter county, July 31, 1887, leaving a widow.  The second son, George Damon, was born in Sacramento in 1855, married a daughter of William Hazelton of Kings River, Fresno County, which is his present home; he has a son and a daughter.  April 13, 1890, the subject of this sketch was by the hand of death deprived of his companion of nearly forty years. (Pages 350-352)



William A. Christie


…a farmer near Lakeport, is a native of Callaway County, Missouri, born in 1845.  His father was a native of Scotland, and his mother of New Jersey.  In the fall of 1852 his father with his family moved to Santa Clara County, California, where he engaged in farming for the following four years.  In 1856 he came to Lake County.  When William A. was twenty-one years old he engaged in farming, in partnership with his brother.  In February, 1889, he bought the farm on which he now lives.  It is located about three miles south of Lakeport, in Big Valley, and contains twenty-eight and three—fourths acres of choice land, which he devotes to the production of fruit and vegetables.  He has a fine two-story residence and a good barn.


He was married in 1872, to Mrs. Catharine Bourne.  They have three children: Isabel, Maggie and Carrie.  Mrs. Christie has one daughter from her first marriage, Mary Ellen Bourne .  Mr. Christie is a member of the order of the Iron Hall and of the A. O. U. W. (Page 352)


W. S. Humphrey


…harness-maker at Winters, is the son of E. a. and Louisa Catherine Humphrey.  His father, a native of Virginia, born March 14, 1832, was a harness-maker by trade, and came to California in 1854, settling first in Sacramento, where he worked at his trade for some time.  He then went to Liberty (now Galt), same county, and there owned and conducted a shop until he moved to Winters in 1875, and resided there until his death, November 17, 1889.  He was a member of the Knights of Pythias.  Mr. Humphrey’s mother is living still.  Walter S. Humphrey was born July 6, 1860, in Liberty (now Galt), Sacramento County.  In partnership with a brother, R. L., born in the same place in 1864, he is carrying on his father’s business since his death, having now about $3,000 worth of stock, and employing one man.


Mr. Humphrey married Ethel Stewart, who was born in Jones County, Iowa, the wedding taking place in Winters, July 17, 1885.  Mr. Humphrey is a member of Damocles Lodge, No. 165, K. of P. (Pages 352-353)



Benton Jones


…one of the worthy and reliable citizens of Redding, California, is a native of Sandwich, Illinois, born December 27, 1841.  His father, William L. F. Jones, a native of the Green Mountain State, emigrated to Pennsylvania and from there to Illinois in 1836.  He was a farmer and blacksmith and one of the brave pioneers of the latter state.  Mr. Jones’ grandfather, Nathaniel Jones, was also a native of Vermont.  The mother of the subject of this sketch, nee Betsey Misner, was born in Indiana, of German ancestry.  To Mr. And Mrs. Jones six children were born, five of whom are living.


Benton remained with his parents, receiving a public-school education and spending his summers in work on the farm.  He continued to work on his father’s farm, of which he is the owner, until 1885, when he rented it and came to California, purchasing a home and settling in Redding.  He is engaged in the real estate and abstract business and is interested in several placer mines.


In 1875 Mr. Jones married Harriet R. Vance, daughter of Dr. G. E. Vance.  One son was born to them, Edwin D., in Redding.  The loving wife and mother was attached with that dread disease, typhoid fever, and notwithstanding the best medical treatment and care were given her she died in September, 1887.  Politically Mr. Jones is a Republican.  He frequently held offices of trust in his Eastern State.  He is a member of the A. O. U. W., and is a Chapter Mason. (Page 353)


Norton Parker Chipman


…the subject of this brief sketch, was born at Milford Center, Union County, Ohio, March 7, 1836.  Both his parents were born in Vermont, and on his father’s side several of the family were distinguished as statesmen and lawyers in the early part of the country’s history.  He had such advantages of education while a boy in the private and public schools as were afforded in Ohio; but his parents moved to the farther West while he was yet in his ‘teens, and settled in Iowa.  Here the boy assisted his father in building up a home and conducting his business as a merchant, but not to the neglect of his studies.  Young Chipman was a pupil of Samuel F. Howe, at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa—one of the most successful educators of his day—and later entered college at Washington, Iowa.


With a liberal education, but without graduating, he became impatient to enter upon the activities of life, and chose the law as a profession.  He graduated later at the Cincinnati Law School, and at the beginning of the war was engaged in practice at Washington, Iowa, as a partner of Hon. Joseph R. Lewis, afterward Chief Justice of the United States Court in Washington Territory.  When Mr. Lincoln’s call for seventy-five thousand volunteers was sent out, Mr. Chipman was the first to enroll his name in his town, and a company was at once there organized.  It became Company “H” of the Second Iowa Infantry—the first three-year regiment from that State—and Mr. Chipman was Lieutenant of the company.  The Colonel of the regiment, Hon. Samuel R. Curtis—then a Member of Congress—appointed Lieutenant Chipman Adjutant of the regiment.  Upon Colonel Curtis’ promotion as Brigadier General, Lieutenant Chipman was elected by the officers and was commissioned Major of the regiment by Governor Kirkwood.  He took part in the early campaigns in Northern and Central Missouri, and was Chief of Staff to General Curtis up to the movement on the Tennessee River by Grant.  He was severely wounded at Fort Donelson while charging the enemy’s entrenchments with his regiment.  For gallantry at this battle he was commissioned by President Lincoln, Colonel and Additional Aid-de-Camp in the United States Army on the staff of Major-General Halleck, and was, after the siege of Corinth, assigned to his old commander, Curtis, and made Chief of Staff.  The Secretary of War detailed him for duty at the War Department in the winter of 1862-63, where he afterward remained until the close of the war.  His position was one of confidence and responsibility, and he was near to that great War Secretary until the war ended.  He was Judge Advocate of several important military courts, and prosecuted and convicted the Andersonville jailer, Wirz.


He resigned from the army in 1865, after his promotion as Brevet Brigadier General by Secretary Stanton, and opened a law office in Washington City, where he built up a large business.  In 1871 he was elected, and in 1873 re-elected by the people of the District of Columbia as Delegate in Congress, and was the first and last Representative ever chosen for that office from the District.  He was one of the founders of the Grand Army of the Republic, and was the first Adjutant General under the re-organization, while General John a. Logan was Commander in Chief in his first term, and was Judge Advocate General for General Logan’s second term.


His health failing in 1875 he came to California, intending to return to Washington; but he soon became fascinated with the large enterprises then offering and the health-giving climate everywhere to be found.  And he never after lived out of the State, but at once identified himself with her best and highest development.


As an evidence of General Chipman’s enterprise and tireless devotion to active business pursuits, he organized, immediately on coming to the State, a large lumbering company, which, in less that one year from its incorporation, had ten saw mills, two sash and door factories and three flumes I n operation; and in 1876-77 manufactured and sold over 40,000,000 feet of lumber in one season.  The investment was large, and, but for the general failure of all enterprises which followed the downfall of the Bank of California, this great scheme would have succeeded and been profitable to its owners.  It went down for the time, but was reorganized, and is now one of the most important industries in Northern California.  The General has been practicing his profession of the law at Red Bluff since 1879, and has built up a wide clientage, and is among the foremost lawyers of his part of the State.  His law partner, Charles A. Garter, has recently been appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of California, and now resides at San Francisco.


General Chipman takes an active interest in all local enterprises and has given much thought and has written and spoken much upon matters concerning the material development of the State, and is a practical and large fruit grower.  He is Vice President of the State Board of Trade, whose labors are solely in the interest of State growth.  He is also President of the California World’s Fair Association, whose Executive Committee has in charge the whole matter of the State’s exhibit at Chicago in 1893.


He has never been active in politics in the State, but always takes the stump for the Republican Party on occasions of National and important State elections.  He has made the distinctive Republican policy of protection a special study, and his tariff arguments are pronounced clear and convincing by all who hear them, except the tariff-for-revenue believer and free-trader who prefer not to be convinced.  At the Republican State Convention in August, 1890, he was a prominent candidate for Governor, and though not nominated he made a most favorable impression, and, as a representative man of the North, the honors of the party may yet await him.


General Chipman writes with great facility upon many subjects, and his helpful pen finds frequent expression through the press and periodicals.  His annual address at the State Fair in 1886, and at the Stockton District Fair in 1887, published in the State Reports, are full of material of permanent value to agriculture and the fruit industry of California.  He was the first to present in satisfactory form the rise, growth and importance of our fruit industries, which he did in a report to the State Board of Trade in 1889.  When the people of Northern California shall make up their minds to demand a larger recognition in the distribution of places of political influence and power, somewhat commensurate with the grand capabilities and the existing merits of that region, it is not improbable that General Chipman may be chosen as their leader.


General Chipman married the daughter of Robert Holmes, of St. Louis, Missouri, in January, 1865; and his wife has been his constant companion ever since.  Their home is widely known for its generous hospitality. (Pages 353-355)



Calvin Ruddock, M. D.


…although not a practicing physician at present, yet is one of the oldest citizens of Woodland, and of this State for forty years.  His present hardy constitution and hale physique he inherits from the sturdy Scotch.  His father, Edward Ruddock, emigrated from Scotland about the age of eighteen years, and the Doctor’s mother is a native of Massachusetts, town of Whately.  The Revolutionary War being in progress at the time, he (Mr. E. Ruddock) enlisted in the American Army at Bunker Hill, and served through the remainder of the war.  The Doctor’s step-grandfather Stafford, and his grandfather on his mother’s side, Thomas Sanderson, were also both soldiers in this war, serving from the beginning to the end.  Edward Ruddock first settled in Boston, where his first occupation was milk-peddling.  He afterward moved to Whately, Franklin County, Massachusetts.  Shortly after he married and moved into the town of Buckland, where he made his permanent home, bringing up a family of six sons and six daughters.  His wife’s maiden name was Martha Sanderson.  She was a native of Franklin County, and was seventeen years old at the time of her marriage, while her husband was three years her senior.  They lived a happy life together for seventy-eight years, the old gentleman being ninety-eight years old and his wife ninety-seven at their death.  When they went to the town of Buckland they rode, both on one horse, a distance of twenty miles into the wilderness and settled on 200 acres of heavily timbered land, which in due time was all cleared except a scanty amount left for fuel.



Calvin Ruddock, our subject, was born in Buckland, Franklin County, Massachusetts, January 18, 1814, and was brought up to the monotonous labor of farm life.  At the age of sixteen years he began to learn the carriage making trade in Ashfield, same county, and served an apprenticeship of five years.


After his five years’ apprenticeship expired he went to Clinton, in Oneida County, New York, where he attended a literary school called the Liberal Institute.  He afterward began the study of medicine, under the instruction of Dr. Stewart, of that place.  About that time the celebrated William H. Seward was elected Governor of New York, in 1840, and Mr. Ruddock went to Albany and attended medical lectures.  While there he spent a year in the office of Drs. Wing & Boyd, and continued his study there, while at the same time he attended lectures.  Next he attended another course of medical lectures at the Berkshire Medical Institute at Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he graduated in 1842.  All through this period the Doctor had to devote his vacations from study to teaching school, in order to replenish his scanty store of funds.  His first practice was in the town of Pitcher, Chenango County, New York, which, by the way, is the burial place of all his parents.  A year afterward he moved four miles further down to the town of Cincinnatus, in Courtland County, where he thought he could do better.  Later he removed to Gilbertsville, Otsego County, same State, where he remained until he came West.


During all this time he was a regular physician, but had given considerable attention to homeopathy, and he at length became a zealous and thorough homeopathist.  He feared that his change of system would make him unpopular, but it actually increased his patronage.


A digression to general history is here justified.  Samuel a. Ruddock, a brother of Edward, was a well-to-do merchant in Boston, who at length became bankrupt; but he was so far advanced in mathematics that the government appointed him Topographical Surveyor for the western country.  For nine years he was absent on this duty from his family at their home in Charleston, South Carolina, who during all this time heard nothing from him!  His work called him through the Western Territories full to the pacific coast.  He gradually worked his way here through Mexico.  While here he found gold on what he termed the “Coast Range of the Rocky Mountains.”  He had several pieces of metal in his possession when he was captured by the Indians near Fort Hall.  To prevent the loss of his life, and even of his effects, he managed to obtain communication with some whites, who came to his relief, proving to the Indians that he was a Government officer; they therefore released him.


The letter which was written by him from this coast, to his brother Edward, gives the details relative to the above facts, and also a general description of the country.  He returned to the East by way of Fort Hall, where he met Kit Carson.  In later years, Dr. Ruddock having this point in mind, saw Carson at Placerville in 1849, and spoke to him on the subject.  The surveyor, having only one eye, was easily described; and when asked as to whether he saw such a man at such a time, Carson replied that he did recollect him, and gave the place of meeting as being between Fort Hall and the States, where Ruddock was then going.  He went on to the East, and while in New York had his precious findings assayed, and it proved to be gold twenty-two carats fine.


Mr. Ruddock then continued on his journey to Washington, resigned his position and organized a company for a trip to this coast to follow gold-mining; but as he was about to start, the mountain fever was revived which he had contracted on his journey to the East, and he died; and all traces of his travel and discoveries were lost to the family.  It is supposed that by the phrase “Coast Range of the Rocky Mountains,” used in his letter, the Sierra Nevada was meant, as at that day the geography of this region was very obscure.  His letters nerved many a ‘49er for the contest and fatigues of the journey.  Samuel A. Ruddock laid out his route through the Southern States, New Mexico and onward to the Pacific Coast by way of Fort Hall; and it was while in New Mexico or Arizona on this trip that he was taken sick and was laid up on the desert where there was no water or food for either man or beast, and the escorting company had to move on to some place for subsistence.  Mr. Ruddock had therefore to be left alone to die; for to remain was death, and to go on was hope.  They left him with his horse, rifle and blankets, etc.  On the third day, about sunset, an elk appeared in sight; Ruddock rolled up on his elbows and brought the animal down with his rifle, and by extraordinary effort he crawled up to the fresh carcass, opened a blood vessel and drank to satisfaction.  That night he slept well.  His fever was broken on the fourth day, and he moved on in pursuit of his company.  Before reaching it, and while crossing a small stream running west, he discovered what proved to be told, twenty-two carats fine.


This discovery was made eighty years ago, and the letters referred to were the wonder of Calvin’s youth, and were worn into pieces by frequent perusal.  Thus we have another account, to be added to several already published, of the discovery of gold in California prior to Marshall’s discovery in 1848.


Mr. Calvin Ruddock, our subject, left New York State in 1848, with the intention of making a trip to this State with a company of others to whom he had imparted a knowledge of the above facts as a secret; but some of them failed go give security, and the organization was not completed.  However, he continued westward, stopped in Wisconsin and practiced his profession for one year, and while there the news went abroad over the world of Marshall’s discovery.  He quickly organized a company and crossed the plains with a band of cattle, coming by the old Fort Hall route, and first stopped in this State at Findlay, on Bear River, where for a time they pastured their cattle.  They ended their march at Sacramento in 1849, on the site where the old French Hotel was, on Front Street.  A few days later the Doctor went on to Placerville, where he spent a portion of the winter mining and practicing medicine.  His patients became so numerous that he opened a hospital at Placerville, the first homeopathic hospital on the coast.  In the fall of 1851 he came down into the Sacramento Valley to collect money which he had lent, and having to take live-stock for payment, he floated it into Yolo County, and has made it his home here ever since.  This movement caused him to turn his attention to stock-raising.  He first located on the Monument ranch, on the west side of the Sacramento River, eight miles above the city.  About 1857 he bought a place on Willow Slough, half way between Woodland and Davisville, near where Merritt’s Station now is.  There the Doctor carried on general farming until 1872, when he moved into Woodland, where he has since resided.  The first fifteen or sixteen years of his residence in this city he was in the eastern part of the town; in 1887 he purchased his present home, comprising two and a half acres of land on Oak Avenue, west of Cleveland.


He was married December 25, 1862, to Mrs. A. B. Guilford, who was born in Portland, Maine, a daughter of William Bell.


In political matters the Doctor was an old-time Whig, casting his first Presidential vote for General Harrison.  His next vote was for James G. Birney, of Detroit, Abolitionist.  Birney had been nominated by a convention in Albany, New York, to which Dr. Ruddock was sent as a delegate from Oneida County.  The Doctor was also nominated on the Abolition ticket in Chenango County, for the New York State Senate.  He now is a strong Prohibitionist Republican.  Religiously he was educated a Congregationalist, and joined that church at the age of sixteen years, but for the past six years he has been a Methodist. (Pages 355-357)

A Memorial & Biographical History of Northern California: Chicago : The Lewis Publishing Company, 1891

Transcribed by Janice Giachino, March, 2007  Pages 348-357


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Martha A Crosley Graham

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